Drivers often need to reverse their vehicles, and they need to use caution when operating their vehicles in reverse. Backing out of a driveway or parking space may seem like a simple matter, but the reality is that backing up is responsible for many accidents throughout California. When these accidents happen at low speeds, the drivers involved may be able to resolve the issue privately with little more than an insurance claim. However, it’s possible for backing up inappropriately or driver inattention to lead to a severe car accident.

When it comes to who is at fault in a car accident when backing up, liability for this kind of collision typically rests with the reversing driver. When a driver backs up into a lane of traffic, another driver occupying an active lane of traffic behind them has the right of way. Therefore, reversing drivers must yield to passing traffic and only continue backing up when the way is clear. When they fail to do so, they can easily incur liability for resulting accidents.

Where Do Back-Up Accidents Happen?

The most commonly reported locations of back-up accidents in California include residential areas and parking lots. In residential neighborhoods, residents may need to back their vehicles out of their driveways as they leave. In addition, they need to stay alert for passing traffic and for nearby bicyclists and pedestrians, especially small children. In parking lots, visibility is often a problem for reversing drivers. Therefore, they should always back up slowly and carefully in case a passing driver is driving too fast behind them.

A back-up accident may also occur in traffic if a driver reverses carelessly. For example, imagine a driver waiting for their turn to cross through an intersection, but the light changes to red faster than expected. If they are out in front of where their lane meets the intersection, they may reverse back into the lane and out of the intersection. Unfortunately, in doing so, they might strike the driver behind them. This is just one example of how back-up accidents can happen in precarious situations.

The most common cause of all reversing accidents is distraction. A reversing driver could become distracted while backing up their vehicle and crash into another vehicle or roll into the path of another driver who does not have time or space to stop. It’s also possible for a passing driver to be inattentive and fail to notice another driver reversing into their path. Determining liability can be difficult for accidents that happen in this manner.

Determining Fault for a Car Accident in California

California enforces a fault-based system for resolving car accidents. When a driver causes an accident, they are liable for the damages caused. All drivers in California must carry auto insurance that meets the state’s minimum coverage requirements, but even a robust insurance policy may not fully cover the total damages resulting from an accident.

If you believe another driver is responsible for your recent reversing accident in California, you must prove that they had a duty of care in the situation in question that they failed to uphold. Liability for a back-up accident can come down to distraction, carelessness, or even reckless driving. While the reversing driver is often determined to be at fault for this type of collision, it is also possible for the other driver to bear some responsibility.

California enforces a pure comparative negligence law that applies to many personal injury claims. This law states that if a plaintiff bears partial responsibility for causing their claimed damages in a civil suit, they may still recover compensation. However, they must lose a percentage of their damages equal to their share of fault for causing the accident. For example, if a plaintiff is deemed 25% at fault in a $100,000 case, the plaintiff loses 25% of the case award resulting in a net award of $75,000 instead.


Q: Is the Reversing Driver Always at Fault for a Back-Up Accident?

A: In most cases, a reversing driver is to blame for a back-up accident because the other driver in an active lane of traffic would have the right of way. However, this may not be true for every reversing accident, and the other driver can incur liability for the incident. If you have any concerns about determining liability for a recent back-up accident in California, it’s vital to consult an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.

Q: What Compensation Can I Claim in a Reversing Accident Case?

A: California law allows an injured plaintiff to seek total compensation for all damages caused by another party’s negligence or intentional misconduct. Your attorney can potentially help you recover compensation for medical expenses, lost income, vehicle repair costs, and your pain and suffering. However, determining fault for the accident is an essential first step in securing the compensation you deserve. You could face partial liability for a back-up accident depending on how and where it occurred.

Q: Will Insurance Cover Back-Up Accident Damages?

A: Typically, the first step toward recovering damages from any accident in California is auto insurance. However, you must establish liability before filing an insurance claim. The insurance company will investigate your claim to determine whether it is obligated to compensate you, and dealing with insurance companies can be incredibly stressful. Having an attorney draft a demand letter for coverage on your behalf can potentially streamline the process of securing an insurance claim settlement.

Q: Do I Need an Attorney to Recover Compensation for Back-Up Accident Damages?

A: It is always advisable to secure legal representation if you must file an insurance claim or personal injury suit after a complex accident. While many reversing accidents result in minimal damages, these incidents can generate tremendous losses for those involved. The right attorney can help you maximize the total recovery you secure through insurance or a civil claim.

Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates has a great deal of experience representing California clients in a wide range of car accident suits, including those where liability isn’t immediately clear or when the parties involved share fault. If you are unsure how to approach your recovery after a back-up accident, we can help. Contact us today and schedule your consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer.